posted on 2/2009 By:
Now here’s an intriguing little piece of atmospheric melancholy from the Dutch quartet Akelei, whose first offering is a promising concoction of doomy shoegaze that should be well received by the Jesu and Katatonia set. There are a handful of atypical things about this record, and most of them center around the vocals of Misha Nuis, which utilize lyrics only in his native Dutch, and, much like our man Justin Broadrick, are only delivered in downcast clean tones. That both of these strategies come off as positives goes a long way in explaining the promise of this young band.
It’s interesting that as this four-song full length progresses, each song becomes both heavier and longer than the last. Opener “Middang” (at a relatively paltry six minutes) has a downright weightless ethereal and mellow, dream-like quality. Its lyrics are taken from a poem, and the Dutch words and their billowy delivery are capably partnered with picked clean guitar melodies that shimmer and float along, while the rest of the band takes it easy until the midway point, when they come together in a workmanlike heavier, mid-paced riffing. It’s an effective opener, if a bit overlong, and though it sets a great tone for the proceedings, the heavier leanings to come are well-advised. “Pijnschrift” takes a slower and heavier course from the get-go, which provides a better contrast to the vocal style, and by “De Zin (die ik verloor)” the band has relegated that melodic guitar noodling firmly to a role in the supporting cast, and focused instead on throbbing waves of distortion. Toward the beginning of “Herfst en de Weduwnaar,” the massive fifteen-minute closer, it sounds briefly like Akelei might suddenly channel Fall of the Idols, which is never a bad thing, and also gives you an idea of the kind of heavier territory the ass end of the album explores. Its lumbering and punishing melancholic doomery seems a long way away from the sugary, delicate opening, yet each track showcases the ethereal atmospherics so central to the band’s character.
The production here is understandably a DIY job, but it’s completely serviceable. In fact, Akelei’s sound might well suffer from a massive, spit-shined production. The band itself claims somewhat modestly that “while there’s nothing professional about the recordings, the CD is intended to give the listener an idea of what the band is all about.” Despite the solid, if perhaps not entirely persuasive scores, Akelei is a band worth feeling excited about. This effort is an impressive opening shot. But if these guys keep at it, I’ve got a hunch that they’ve got a massively convincing album in the cards. It would be nice to see them further their arrangements and cash in on the opportunities for crashing catharsis in their songs. Still, Akelei has done more than enough to grab my attention. A band to watch.
Register to post comments.